Finally, after all the build up, we got our first real look at the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s newest console is due to release on March 3rd, retailing at $300. That’s in like, not a lot of days.
Quick speed round here for the initial impressions. March 3rd is a couple weeks earlier than I expected but there’s nothing to complain about there. As for the price, it’s a little more expensive than it probably should be; maybe by about $50. Oh, and the console won’t be locked to the region you bought it so welcome to 2017 Nintendo. Now let’s get to the biggest takeaway from Nintendo’s Switch presentation that took place last night.
Full disclaimer, I buy all the Nintendo consoles and I get my use out of them but that doesn’t make them perfect. From what it looks like, the Switch is going to be more of the same from Nintendo. They literally could have just called it the Wii3 and it would have made perfect sense because the Switch is effectively a combination of the Wii and the WiiU. The “joy-con” controller, which has one of the worst names I’ve ever heard of, is effectively the Wii remote and obviously the entire concept of going handheld with a portable screen is what the WiiU was built on. I definitely came away from last night with the idea that games like 1-2 Switch and ARMS are supposed to be the driving force of the console, which is exactly what they did with the Wii and the WiiU. Hey Nintendo, did anyone ever tell you what the definition of insanity is?
Look, I get it. Nintendo operates on their own program and they do their own thing. But I can’t help but feel like Nintendo’s obsession with making their little gimmicks work is a detriment to their products. All I want is a good console that plays good games; I don’t need a bunch of neat little gadgets. I was honestly stunned that they didn’t reveal virtual reality to be a primary component of the Switch based on what we saw last night. These little niche tricks can be fun in spots but it’s proven out that you can’t build a console around it (re: Kinect, PS Move, Wii, WiiU…).
My initial impression of the Switch was that Nintendo would be moving in a direction that merged their handheld market and console market into one. Honestly not a bad move… until you realize the battery life on the Switch (2-6 hours) doesn’t sound particularly great. As of right now, I’m definitely skeptical of the Switch’s ability to actually function as a handheld gaming device but I’m fairly confident that it’ll be just fine as a regular console. So let’s talk about the games.
Even here, Nintendo came up short. There were some really cool games announced last night like Super Mario Odyssey (please be Sonic Adventure and not Sonic 06), Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2 (which should totally be called Spla2oon) and Project Octopath Traveler. We also learned that EA would be bringing games like FIFA to the Switch, Bethesda would indeed be bringing Skyrim to the Switch and that over 80 titles are currently in development. With rumors of a Pokemon main series game coming to the Switch, there’s a lot to be excited about as the console ages. But for some reason, Nintendo didn’t reveal everything during the presentation either. Games like Super Bomberman R, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Sonic Mania were mysteriously revealed in silence after the presentation. On top of it all, the only game in the bunch that’s actually a launch title is Super Bomberman R, and it wasn’t even in the presentation last night.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, really the Switch’s only launch title, looks terrific and is probably going to be enough to sell the console at a high rate early on. But here we go again, Nintendo is releasing a new console with minimal games to play and they’ll probably be short on hardware supply. I like Nintendo a lot, I buy all of their consoles and I thoroughly enjoy myself. But it’s hard not to see this setting up to be WiiU Round Two. You can’t just release one game at launch and expect the console to do well. I can already feel the “Switch is underwhelming” headlines that’ll be coming out by June. Nintendo better have a damn strong E3 or they could be in rough waters.
One other thing that we learned last night is that the Switch is going to have a paid online service much like the Xbox and Playstation. I’m really not sure how this makes sense for Nintendo. If the Switch is not going to be able to stand up to the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 as well as not having quite the same support from third party developers, what is there to pay for online? It’s clear that they targeting families and kids, who I doubt have much interest in paying for online gaming. And how many games are we really talking about here? Splatoon, Smash Bros. and Pokemon? And that’s if they even come to the Switch at all. I’m really just not sure how this makes much sense.
I just find the handling of the Switch to be very confusing from Nintendo’s end. It’s going to be successful enough but it doesn’t really feel like Nintendo even cares to address the problems from the Wii and the WiiU. In fact, rather than learning from their mistakes, they’re doubling down on it. I just feel like Nintendo has so much potential and they routinely come up short because they willingly choose to. I guess can’t really say I’m surprised. Regardless, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Switch in just a few weeks.
Dab on em, Japan.